JACKSONVILLE – Class 2A’s No. 2-ranked Collinsville Lady Panthers survived a last-second comeback attempt and edged the fifth-ranked Fyffe Lady Red Devils 45-40 Friday in the 2A Northeast Regional Semifinals.
The game’s opening minutes saw both defenses settle in zone schemes that forced shots from deep range where both teams struggled mightily.
After an early basket from both teams, the Lady Panthers lost their lone senior and this year’s county tournament MVP when Trinity Garner rolled her ankle near the baseline just four minutes into the game, forcing some adjustments for Collinsville on both ends of the floor.
“With Trinity getting hurt there early, it seemed like it affected us for a while,” Collinsville head coach Jon Tidmore said. “They came out in a 1-2-2 and we didn’t move really well against that. We gritted it out, and we finally made enough plays there to pull it out. We made some bad plays too and kind of helped them out, but overall in the fourth quarter we made enough smart plays and got the ball to the right spots.”
While the Lady Panthers were trying to adjust to playing without their senior leader, Fyffe took advantage with layups from Madison Myers and Maggie Woodall along with a 3-pointer by Marie Woodall from the right wing to help them grab a 9-6 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
With Collinsville’s lone senior out for the game, their lone junior Kallie Kilgro stepped in a big way to start the second quarter.
A drive to the rim from the baseline ended in a 3-point play when Kilgro made a layup and a following free throw on the Lady Panthers’ first possession of the quarter. She followed with another score at the rim on their next possession to put Collinsville ahead 11-9 at the time.
Fyffe then took back the lead briefly on a score in the paint by Alexia Barber and a three from the top of the key from Madison Myers.
Collinsville then closed the half on a 6-2 run that included four points from Brittany Rivera and another layup by Kilgro to give the Lady Panthers a 17-16 lead at halftime.
Fyffe just ahead again with an early basket from Barber before Kilgro struck again when she scored on floater in the paint and another score later after grabbing an offensive rebound.
That started a 9-0 run that was capped off with a pair of free throws by Caroline Brannon and a 3-pointer from Hadley Hamilton to give Collinsville an 8-point lead.
Fyffe answered back with six straight points coming from two baskets in the paint from freshman Anabelle Taylor and a layup from Marie Woodall to cut the lead down to two before a last-minute layup by Kilgro gave the Lady Panthers a 28-24 edge headed to the fourth quarter.
After Kilgro’s hot start in the second quarter, Rivera did the same thing to start the fourth with five points in the first minute to give Collinsville their biggest lead of the night.
Fyffe began to claw back within reach with a score from Anabelle Taylor and a three by Myers that cut the lead to five.
After a stop on the other end, Myers attempted another three that could have cut the lead to two, but Rivera blocked the attempt from deep range and scored with a layup on the other end to stretch the lead back out to seven for Collinsville midway with under four minutes left to play.
Both teams traded baskets over the next two minutes until another score in the paint from Anabelle Taylor followed by a jump ball call that gave the ball back to Fyffe.
That extra possession saw Myers find Maggie Woodall on the baseline where she drained a 3-pointer that cut the lead to two with 55 seconds left in regulation.
Fyffe then was able to grab a loose ball and had a chance to tie the game, but a shot from Anabelle Taylor missed its mark.
Rivera then sank a pair of free throws on the other end.
Myers then air-balled a baseline three, but Barber grabbed the offensive board and scored to cut the lead to two once again with eight seconds left on the clock.
Collinsville Maggie McKinney then went to the line for a 1-and-1 to possibly put the game on ice. She made her first attempt and grabbed her own offensive rebound when she missed her second shot.
“That’s the kind of thing we hope Maggie can do all the time,” Tidmore said “She’s really athletic and quick and that was a big play for us late.”
Another quick foul sent Rivera to the line with four seconds remaining, where she made both shots to seal the win and end the Lady Red Devils’ season.
Rivera and Kilgro scored all but seven of Collinsville’s points in the win.
Rivera shot 7-for-14 from the field, was 8-for-9 at the charity stripe and led the Lady Panthers with 22 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.
Kilgro shot 7-for-13 from the field and finished with 16 points and three rebounds.
“I think they both had big buckets when we needed them,” Tidmore said about Rivera and Kilgro’s performances in Garner’s absence. “Both of them stepped up, got some layups and some really good rebounds that turned into shots for us. They both really did a great job.”
Fyffe was led by Anabelle’s Taylor’s 14 points. She shot 7-for-16 from the field and also grabbed four rebounds.
Barber netted eight points and led with 11 rebounds. Myers also scored eight and both Marie and Maggie Woodall scored five each.